Isaiah offers in nine verses the heart of the biblical message: God loves us, no matter what, reaching out to us even (or especially) in the worst of times, making promises that are not pie-in-the-sky, not theoretical. God promises what we most deeply yearn for: homecoming when we’re lost, a rich feast when we’re hungry, fresh water to satisfy our thirst, and a community of hope when we long for meaning–something greater than ourselves through which we might be a blessing to the world. There’s no price of admission to this feast, and everyone (even the most unexpected) will be invited to the party.
A Litany for Amistad Sunday (based on Isaiah 43)
The 1839 slave revolt aboard the Amistad brought Congregationalists from New England together to defend the rights of these slaves to their freedom. That defense finally came before the U.S. Supreme Court. When it was finished, the slaves were freed and the American Missionary Society (a forerunner of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries) was formed.
One: In the hold of the ship, the Amistad, the slaves were chained and rowed together.
MANY: But God made a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters.
One: Chains were broken, slaves revolted, but God said, “Do not remember the old ways. I am about to do a new thing.”
MANY: The slaves were recaptured, prisoners again, but no alone. A committee was formed to support and defend. Advocates, lawyers, ministers and more. People of faith brought clothing and money and food.
One: Now it springs forth; do you see it?
MANY: Before the court, the Supreme Court, justice, this time, prevailed.
One: “I will make a way through the wilderness,” said the God of the slaves.
MANY: And the slaves were acquitted. All were set free.
One: God gave water and rivers in the desert so the thirsty could drink.
MANY: The slaves went home but their friends persisted.
One: For abolition, for education, for liberty, The American Missionary Society was born, and continues today as part of the United Church of Christ.
MANY: So says God, “These are the people whom I formed for myself so they might declare my praise.”
One: Let us worship our God, a God of freedom and justice. Oh God of the Amistad,
MANY: Give hope to our prayers and make true our hope that liberty and equality and fairness bless this land.